? could you confidently point out syria on a blank map? president obama is going to address the nation about his plan for syria on tuesday, and he has already, by asking congress to weigh in, put the debate, to some extent, in our citizen hands. it becomes our responsibility to know as much as we can about what we may be getting ourselves into. as the ancient chinese military general and philosopher wrote, you must know yourself and know your enemy in order to win your battles. and after what feels like nonstop syria talk for nearly two weeks, i'm still left wondering, how much do we know about the country itself? syria's bordered by jordan, lebanon, turkey, iraq, and israel. it was part of the ottoman empire until after world war i, when france and britain carved up the middle east between them. france took syria, and syria didn't gain independence until 1946. the next few decades were marked by coups and uprisings, until president bashar al assad's father seized power in 1970. syria is made up of a wide variety of ethnic groups, including ethnic kurds, arab christians, and even jews.